Sapa Market: The colorful market shows a mountainous lifestyle

Sapa Market, built and put into operation in 2015, is located in the center of Sapa town, at the intersection of Luong Dinh Cua Street and Dien Bien Phu Street. Because of this prime location, the Sapa market is also called the central market.

The market is open from 6 am to 6 pm every day, with the busiest time being from 6 am to 10 am. On weekends, this location also organizes “Cho Phien” for people from ethnic villages in the mountainous areas of Sapa.

sapa market photo

Therefore, to fully explore the beauty and unique cultural colors through the trading activities of the ethnic people here, you should visit the market before 10 am every day. In particular, every Saturday and Sunday is considered the most suitable to discover the Sapa market.

The duration to visit the market that you can spend is around 1 hour, that is a short time to do. Thus, you may combine exploring the market with visiting Sapa Stone Church or any other place for a day here.

1. Overview of the Sapa market

sapa market building

Sapa market consists of a prominent 2-storey main building, a smaller low house next to it, and a free trading area around the market.

The main 2-storey building is very spacious, airy and clean. From the writer of Vietnamdrive’s opinion, it can be said that this is one of the cleanest and most airy local markets in Vietnam.

sapa market lao cai

The ground floor of the building sells footwear, herbal products, mountainous specialties, souvenirs, some typical forest products for foresters, and a culinary area.

The space on the second floor of the building is for buying and selling clothes, fabrics, brocade, bracelets, and jewelry typical of indigenous people. Next to it, there are also a few tailoring shops and small weaving-brocade stores.

inside sapa market
Inside the market

The next-door building is lower and smaller but is where daily trading activities happen bustlingly. The items available here are mainly fresh foods, such as pork, beef, chicken, fish, seafood, dried foods, and spices.

beautiful sa pa market

The surrounding area, located outside the two buildings, is where occasional trading activities of indigenous people take place. They mainly sell products produced in their home gardens, such as fresh vegetables, tubers, and fruits. Other goods, including forest fruits and natural herbs, are harvested by ethnic people after each trip to the jungle.

Each space contains its own interesting things. The layout here is also neat, spacious, and easy for visitors to explore.

2. Seven highlights at the Sapa market

In addition to serving the needs of exchanging goods and daily necessities of indigenous people, the Sapa market is also a favorite place for many tourists coming to this small town.

beautiful sapa market photo

The highlights that make the market attractive are:

2.1. The market has a very airy, spacious, and clean design, considered the first big plus point for this destination.

2.2. It is different from various markets in other cities or rural areas; the Sapa market stands out with typical products of the mountainous region. Rare herbs and forest products are sold in abundance, such as wild ginseng, rare medicinal plants, instant pork/beef/buffalo meat, etc.

herb in sapa market

2.3. Fresh green vegetables and fruits in the Sapa market are diverse and cheap. These items are mainly products people harvest from their gardens or the results after a trip to the forest and bring them to the market to sell.

2.4. In the garment area, clothes, towels, and brocade products with eye-catching colors and unique styles are sold as main items. Here, you will see the traditional costumes of different ethnic groups living around the mountains of Sapa, such as Dao, Mong, Thai, and Giay.

sapa market in lao cai

2.5. Jewelry items, such as headscarves, bracelets, hats, and necklaces, are typical in the mountainous Northwest style and appear a lot in this market. It becomes another unique feature that no other markets in the plain regions have.

2.6. The culinary space at the market sells many local dishes of the Northwest, such as Thang Co Ngua, corn wine, stream fish, black chicken, bamboo-tube rice, and black Chung cake. According to the writer’s idea, the culinary area is relatively spacious and clean compared to other local Vietnamese markets. However, you should still consider food safety and hygiene when you want to taste any dishes.

local market in sapa town

2.7. There is also a thrilling market session called “Cho Phien”, held on weekends. Plenty of people from remote villages around Sapa town come to the market in large numbers. They bring with them the products they want to exchange. In particular, the market is also a place for indigenous boys and girls to date and find their “other half”. The joyful sound of flutes and graceful dances make this region extremely bustling and unique.

3. Notes when going to the Sapa market

– If you like brocade, you can buy a few items for yourself as souvenirs. Because you probably won’t see similar products again when you leave this beautiful Northwest mountain town.

– Herbs, medicinal plants, and rare forest products are widely sold at the market. However, you have to consider buying any item. Because, maybe, you will not be allowed to take it on your flights, according to a few regulations on allowed-and-prohibited goods.

sa pa market

– Enjoying food at the market seems interesting to many people, but we have never encouraged you to try it when you are an international tourist. You always pay attention to food safety to ensure your belly is safe during the trip.

– When selling, ethnic people almost do not have the habit of saying higher prices to negotiate more or less. Therefore, if you want to buy something, usually pay the exact price they offer without haggling!

Please include Sapa Market in the list of outstanding destinations to visit this foggy town on your journey. Here, you will find plenty of new colors compared to other markets in Vietnam. It clearly shows the unique culture of the people in the Northwest Highland.

And please remember to buy a few small gifts or take beautiful photos as memories of the trip. You will catch exciting things to show your friends and relatives about the colorful market.

(Photo: Luu Lee / Vietnamdrive)

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    About the author

    The editorial staff of Vietnamdrive is a team of travel experts managed by Mr. Thom who has worked in tourism for 14 years. Trusted by thousands of tourists from all over the world.